New law expands elderly abuse reporting requirements
STATE HOUSE – The governor has signed into law legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) and Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) expanding a law that requires people who have reasonable cause to believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected or mistreated to report it to the Division of Elderly Affairs, which will report the incident to law enforcement if appropriate and intervene.
Previously, health care providers and numerous types of workers who come into contact with elderly or disabled people in health care facilities were required to report suspected abuse or neglect within 24 hours.
The legislation (2019-S 0603A, 2019-H 5573), which takes effect immediately, adds a section of law requiring reporting of suspected abuse, exploitation, neglect or self-neglect of people over age 60, regardless of whether they live in a health care facility. It also expands the list of those required to report suspected abuse to include physician assistants and probation officers and protects employees who report abuse from liability (unless they are found to be a perpetrator) or negative consequences at work for reporting abuse or neglect.
The bill was backed by the Senate’s Special Task Force to Study Elderly Abuse and Financial Exploitation, which was led by Senator Coyne. That panel, which recently issued its final report, began working in December to study the prevalence and impact of elder abuse and financial exploitation in Rhode Island.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903